Wilson wins GOP backing in run for 142nd District seat

Norwalk attorney Emily Wilson won the Republican Party endorsement for the 142nd state House seat occupied for the past 22 years by retiring House Minority Leader Larry Cafero.
Norwalk attorney Emily Wilson won the Republican Party endorsement for the 142nd state House seat occupied for the past 22 years by retiring House Minority Leader Larry Cafero.

NORWALK, Conn. – Attorney Emily Wilson won the endorsement of the local Republican delegates Wednesday night  to run for the 142nd state Assembly District seat currently held by retiring Norwalker Larry Cafero.

The district includes the western and northern parts of Norwalk, and a portion of New Canaan.

Wilson, who is vice chairwoman of the Norwalk Zoning Commission and president of the Board of Directors for the Norwalk Senior Center, was chosen by a 4-2 vote over former Norwalk Board of Estimate and Taxation Chairman Fred Wilms.

“We must ease regulations to make it easier to open a business in Connecticut. We must reduce the tax burden on families and
businesses,” Wilson said in accepting the endorsement. “We must rein in the state’s rate of spending that has outpaced even the highest tax hike in Connecticut’s history, and we must finally eliminate the inequity of education funding. With determination, openness, and honesty, I am prepared to do everything I can to make Connecticut a place where we all can live, work and retire.”

Wilson won the support of delegates Peter Nolin, Carol Andreoli and William Dunne of Norwalk and James O’Hora of New Canaan. Norwalks’ Jack Chiaramonte and Peter Halladay voted for Wilms.

Nolin nominated Wilson for the endorsement.

“Emily is to be commended for her long public service with the Norwalk Senior Center,”  said Nolin, vice chairman of the Norwalk Republican Town Committee. “She has also shown an ability and willingness to fight for our neighborhoods in years of work as the chair and vice chair of the Norwalk Zoning Commission. In every way she is well equipped to carry on the distinguished legacy of  accomplishments that has been achieved by our long-serving State Representative Larry Cafero.”

Dunne was at the Norwalk Inn event as an alternate to assigned delegate Jim Feigenbaum, who could not attend.

“Emily has a calm demeanor that belies a quick and decisive mind,” he said in supporting the nomination. “There’s a certain member of the Zoning Commission who shall remain nameless here who would test the patience of Job. And I’ve watched Emily listen to endless rants and then deploy a kind of verbal jiu-jitsu that effectively neutralizes said commissioner without leaving any marks. She has a sharp mind that cuts to the core of the issue at hand, which will stand her in good stead amid the messy sausage-making in Hartford. She handles herself with a grace and aplomb that wins her points without bruising any egos. In Emily Wilson, I think the people of the 142nd House district will have an excellent representative in Hartford.”

Dunne recently announced he would challenge incumbent Democratic state Sen. Bob Duff for his seat and won his party’s endorsement as the lone Republican challenger.

Wilson, a graduate of St. John’s University School of Law, has practiced law in Norwalk for several years representing small businesses, the elderly and estates.
Wilson announced to the convention delegates that her campaign committee had reached the fundraising goals required to apply for a grant from the Connecticut Citizens’ Election Fund.

Wilson will carry the backing of the party into the race, but that does not mean she has a clear path to November. Wilms will continue his challenge, he said, and face off with his fellow Norwalk Republican in the Aug. 12 primary election.

“We achieved our objectives at this convention,” Wilms said. “With our votes, we have earned automatic placement on the primary ballot. Furthermore, we will automatically receive funding for the August primary from the Citizens Election Program. These funds will be in addition to the $28,000 for the November general election.

“Since three delegates had already committed to Emily Wilson last year, long before I entered the race, we knew we needed to plan beyond the convention” Wilms continued. “We are now free to bring our message directly to the voters.”

Wilms pointed to his fund-raising and support of popular district Republicans for reasons for optimism that he will win the August primary.

“Based on the enthusiastic reactions my campaign has received, I am very optimistic about winning both in August, and, more importantly, in November. We achieved our campaign finance thresholds one month ago in record time. We have received support from wide segments of the community. I am honored to be endorsed by both former Norwalk Mayor Richard Moccia and New Canaan First Selectman Rob Mallozzi.

“I believe the primary will strengthen the Republican message and better position us to win in November. “

Wilson or Wilms will face Democrat Andy Garfunkel on the November ballot. The former 10-year Norwalk Town Clerk is the lone Democrat to enter the race for the seat held for 22 years by Cafero, who retires as House Minority Leader.

“I congratulate Emily on her nomination,” Garfunkel said in an email to Nancy OnNorwalk. “I look forward to a campaign on the issues as the voters of Norwalk and New Canaan seek to fill this seat with a fresh voice. Small businesses and residents alike need to know that the district will be able to create jobs, reinvigorate our aging infrastructure and position the state to move forward in the years ahead.”


22 responses to “Wilson wins GOP backing in run for 142nd District seat”

  1. Piberman

    Mayor Moccia, whose Administration was hardly the model of fiscal restraint and saw City employees gain top salary ranking among CT cities casts a peculiarly long shadow on a long held seat by virtue of supporting his top lieutenant. Rep. Cafero leaves a powerful legacy of fiscal restraint in state budget matters and superb negotiating skills associated with successful attorneys. How sharply different their fiscal spending legacies. CT legislative leaders have oft been attorneys – negotiating skills are thee requisite skill set. Attorney Wilson has the best requisite skills set and best chance to represent the post Moccia rejuvenation of the Norwalk Republican Party. Should be the falls most interesting local contest. To his credit Rep. Cafero has remained officially “neutral”. All the more reason why he’s a genuinely admired “Norwalk original”.

  2. Taxpayer Fatigue

    Only Six people showed up to vote? That’s pathetic.

  3. David McCarthy

    This was a convention and the number of elected delegates was 6. They are apportioned from the districts the state rep district covers. Accordingly there was one from New Canaan, 2 from District E, 2 from District D and 1 from District A.

    I agree that Rep Cafero is a Norwalk Original and an honorable man and accomplished legislator. I doubt he wants to see a primary, especially when the party endorsed candidate virtually always wins, and certainly will in this case.

    Emily Wilson is an accomplished, educated, talented and honest woman who will serve the city well in Hartford, and I am proud to support her.

  4. Lisa Thomson

    Dave, the King is dead, long live the King. IMHO I guess 20 years of service in the GOP in Norwalk doesn’t mean anything to the new guys. Changing of the guard in the party…guess they want their people. Thought Figenbaum was Wilms’s friend. Guess he didn’t have the courage to show up and stick the knife in. Let the Republican voters decide in a primary who their candidate is. That’s a true democracy. don’t live in the district, nor am I a Republican but it just seems pretty crummy what you guys did to Fred. But, I guess that’s politics!

  5. LWitherspoon

    Fred Wilms served Norwalk honorably on the BET, while Emily Wilson played politics from the Zoning Commission in an attempt to win a seat on the Common Council. Her campaign literature used the hot-button mosque issue inappropriately with a clever series of half-truths that distorted the facts. Let’s not reward behavior of that nature – were I a Republican I would vote for Fred.

  6. anonymous

    Wilms has name recognition and respect, except for the food fight called the Zoning Commission, Wilson is an unknown.

  7. Joe Espo

    All I can say to Emily and Fred: be wary of any gratuitous advice coming from democrats. Either its designed to maliciously disarm you politically or it’s rooted in idiocy. It could be a screen to cover for Garfunkel’s misfeasance in office. If he was too inept to prevent a clerk from swiping petty cash money into her own pocket, just imagine what he’d allow to happen with Connecticut’s bizzilion dollar tax-cash hoard that’s a bizzillion dollars short of paying off the public employee pension credit card.

  8. Piberman

    Curious that above commentators express their personal likes and dislikes about the two candidates without discussing how their respective backgrounds and abilities might best serve Norwalk residents living in a state with an unprecedented outflow of jobs, firms and citizens.
    Legislators can both clout and respect for negotiating and people skills. And getting re-elected to advance up the ranks of seniority. Given the size and extent of its commercial activities a senior employee of Webster Bank would likely recluse himself from state budget and fiscal discussions. To the best of my knowledge, and I’ve made many presentations in Hartford, no senior banker has ever been elected to the CT legislature. Running for mayor would seem a better fit.

  9. Hobbes the Calvinist

    The real GOP battle won’t be Wilson v. Wilms. It’ll be Wilms v. Wilms.

    This is, after all, the guy who’s never found a news story he didn’t yearn to inject himself into- or a half-truth he couldn’t twist to get some press.

    In 2009, Wilms was happy with the newly negotiated teachers’ contact. He called it a “A very favorable deal for the city,” and said that “it’s going to benefit taxpayers” (The Hour 10/23/09). Then, less than five months and one budget cycle later, we read: “Contracts that were negotiated in the past … because of the severe economic conditions we have, may no longer be sustainable — through nobody’s fault,” Wilms said. (The Hour 10/25/10). Huh, does the banker not realize that the same recession that was hurting the area in October 2009 was the same recession hurting the City in 2010.

    Of course, ever the over-achiever, “Flip” Wilms wouldn’t be content contradicting himself over a few months. So he stepped his game and figured out how to distance himself from himself over the course of a single sentences. We all remember this gem from the school department’s 2012 budget crisis when the City was going to help the BOE with the expectation that money advanced would be repaid: [Wilms] said,”It’s like a loan but we didn’t actually lend the money. (Stamford Advocate 7/12/12).

    Sure, double-speak and playing lose with the truth might be fine attributes for an aspiring state politico. But are they the qualities we want in Larry Cafero’s replacement?

  10. anon

    Norwalk Republicans, take one step forward, shoot self in foot, take two steps back.

  11. Where’s Larry when you need him

    Fred is better off without the endorsement. This is the same bunch that picked Linda McMahon not once, but twice.

  12. Flip Wilms

    I’m not a Republican. But I’m a parent of school kids.

    That means that I am thinking about registering in the GOP just to vote against Flip Wilms in the primary.

    There is one advantage (and only one advantage) to serving up Flip Wilms to the good old boys in Hartford. Having to listen him every day for two years would be a fine payback for all the years that has been sticking it to Norwalk with the ECS formula.

  13. Charger

    @Flip, you posted on the Union blog. Wilms was no friend of the unions, more power to him.

  14. Marge Innoverra

    @Hobbes: “Flip” Wilms is a political nickname that just might stick. Best I’ve heard in years (with apologies to Dave McCarthy and his pithy monikers for Mike Barbis).

    @PBerman: When you’re right, you’re right (though I hate to admit it). You hit the nail on the head- Wilms is not a leader.

    @LisaThompson: Good to see you’ve come around to support status quo politics as usual candidates.

    @Charger: Wilms is no friend of the teachers union. But look at the crazy salaries of city administrators- those contracts were signed and budgeted under his watch on BET. Sounds like another Wilms flip.

  15. Lisa B from Norwalk

    First time, long time poster here . . .
    I don’t want to call anyone a hypocrite, but I will tell them that they are factually challenged.
    To the poster who said that Fred is better off without the endorsement, because “that bunch” picked McMahon twice. Hello . . . the person who was Linda McMahon’s biggest cheerleader was former mayor Dick Moccia. Dick Moccia is now one of only two republicans who haven’t publicly disavowed Wilms.
    Another poster commented how unfair Republicans were to “Flip” Wilms. It’s not unfair to refuse to support a guy who is wildly unpopular, and about whom even charitable sorts describe as “unctuous”.
    Plus, ask any Republican candidate over the past few years- Wilms was one of several “officials” who would threaten party excommunication if anyone forced a primary. Guess it’s different when he’s the convention loser.
    Finally to the claim that “Flip” Wilms is among the finest and most fitting Norwalk political nicknames. It may be the second best nickname in City history. The grand prize must go to the person who first [gave former Mayor Richard Moccia his nickname].

    This post was edited to conform to our policy.

  16. Kriss

    This comment has been removed because of our ban on sock puppets.

  17. Where’s Larry when you need him

    @Lisa B. Both parties have herd mentality and would rather run off the cliff than support the viable candidate for their offices. Wilson was chosen by the party brass and as a matter of principal they’d rather lose than admitting they were wrong. It is why the GOP is just about non existent in the state. Picking favorites over qualifications is the norm. So Wilms is late to the party and the GOP nominates a candidate who barely, barely didn’t finish in dead last place in her race against Kathleen Tepper. If/when Wilson loses Larry Cafero’s seat our failure as a local GOP party will be complete. Is that your goal?

  18. anonymous

    @Where’s Larry, yep, party brass would rather lose than admit being wrong.

    Votes are in from the teachers unions too looks like. Unions want Wilson, someone Garfunkle can beat, and they will attempt to portray Wilms, and by default all Republicans, as not being a fiscal stalwarts.

  19. Mr. Ludlow

    So the best the “Flip” Wilms campaign can offer is to lie about some secret union conspiracy. Seems like some boys and girls have their aluminum-thought-control-prevention-helmets wrapped a little too tightly.

    There is a good reason why Republicans probably went with Emily Wilson- she’s worked hard in her two common council races and has been a great help to GOP candidates as a treasurer. Solid reputation for honesty and hardwork are pluses.

    There are lots of good reasons why the people who knew Wilms best rejected his candidacy. He lost his re-election to the Common Council in 2001 (after serving one term) after being accused of stretching his accomplishments in campaign literature. He ran for General Assembly in 2002 and lost. He ran against Bob Duff and did poorly (Artie Kassimis, as a virtual unknown, received a higher percentage of the vote in 2010 than Wilms did in 2006).

    To capitalize on the scandal that occurred in the Town Clerk’s office under Garfunkel’s watch, the GOP knows they need a candidate who isn’t tainted by his own electoral mis-steps. That excludes Wilms from consideration.

  20. Kriss

    This comment has been removed because of our ban on sock puppets.

  21. Where’s Larry when you need him

    @Mr. Ludlow. Wilson beat Kathleen Tepper by five votes for last place. Talk about lowering the bar. By trashing Fred one can only conclude that you would prefer having Garfunkel represent you in Hartford.

  22. Mr. Ludlow

    @Where’s Larry . . . Say what you will about “Kate!”, but she had the highest percentage of any of Larry’s recent opponents.

    In 2012, she took 46% of the Norwalk vote from Larry. That same year, against Sen. Duff, BoE member Jack Chiaramonte didn’t break 25% of the Norwalk vote. Common Councilor Joanne Romano didn’t get 35% of the vote against the non-campaigner Chris Perone.
    Kate’s 45% against Larry was higher than Wilm’s percentage when he lost to Duff in 2000 (38.8%), and when he lost to Duff in 2006 (29.4%)
    The numbers suggest that Kate! is a formidable opponent (she’s gotten more votes than Wilms)- for Wilson to beat Kate! by any number of votes is an accomplishment.

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